Silent Witness‘s Nikki Alexander has had a rough time of it. Not only was she buried alive in Mexico at the end of the last series, she’s also had more dating pitfalls than your average Tinder user. There was adulterous Ryan, tragic James Embleton and who could forget serial killer Greg?
So a new love interest comes with a certain degree of trepidation. Enter Matt Garcia, played by Michael Landes who you might recognise from Lois & Clark back in the 1990s. Garcia works for the US ambassador and crosses paths with Nikki (played by Emilia Fox) and the Lyell team when an American embassy employee is found dead on UK soil and the two sides team up to investigate.
The embassy has been the subject of headlines of late, thanks to Donald Trump’s very public reluctance to open it, but this two-parter focuses less on politics and more on a mysterious killing spree that Nikki soon finds herself more involved with than she’d like to be.
RadioTimes.com caught up with Michael Landes to hear all about his introduction to the series – and his hopes for Matt and Nikki’s budding relationship…
What can you tell us about Matt?
He is the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US ambassador so he’s living and working in London. He’s good at his job and successful. Nikki and Matt have a spark instantly when they meet and that blossoms into a nice cosy love affair. You never know how love connects and people connect.
Nikki’s track record with men isn’t good – are you hoping Matt can turn that around?
I hope so. He’s not a serial killer as I know so far. Our obstacle is I have to go back and forth to America so there’s a bit of an airplane obstacle. But it’s 2018 – I think we can solve that problem.
Do you feel a sense of excitement from fans, that Nikki might finally have found a nice guy?
She hasn’t had a guy stick and I’m assuming people love her character so if they love her, I think TV audiences sometimes take ownership of their lead character. Instead of asking for a father’s approval, I have to ask an audience’s approval!
Without getting too spoilery, Matt finds himself in some trouble before too long…
Michael Landes in Silent Witness, BBC Pictures, SL
We still don’t know who is killing all these people because more start to die – it’s not just one American – and we think maybe Matt is next at the end of episode one. For Nikki, it’s like, ‘Oh no, here’s somebody I think I might like’ and then he’s possibly gone. I think both characters realise, based on her event in Mexico and his event, that what’s important to them could possibly be each other. They’re not 21-year-olds. I think adults know who they are and what they want a little bit and going through trauma could make people a little more vulnerable or raw or open.
Had you watched Silent Witness before accepting the role?
No, I wasn’t familiar with it at all – even though it’s the longest running show and it’s a huge ratings hit – because it hasn’t aired in America which is in itself a bit of a crime. But I had worked with Emilia in Upstairs Downstairs a few years ago although we didn’t have any scenes together – I think we met briefly in the make up chair or something so I knew who she was. I hadn’t seen Silent Witness but I really liked the story – the first time you see me in these two episodes they blended a crime show with a love story which our American crime shows, as successful as they are, don’t often go into the personal lives of the stars of the show. I thought this did that very well.
Do you enjoy being over here in London to film?
I love London and I have really good friends here. There’s still the experience of making a show with just a director and the actors and filmmakers – it’s geared for better storytelling in the sense that it’s not so corporate with so many people overlooking everything. It’s nice to be treated like a human being and I feel like they do that in England.
Is that not the case in America?
Well, they do that in America but it’s big and there’s a lot of money and pressure – if something doesn’t work they’ll instantly stop doing it whereas in England you’ll get to tell six stories or eight stories and you get to see something through. I’ve worked here quite a bit now and I’ve done a few series here and I really love it. I like the idea of filmmakers and actors telling the story.
Michael Landes in Silent Witness, BBC Pictures, SL
Can America be more ruthless, giving shows less of a chance to find their feet?
I’ve done probably 20 different series where you just start and everyone’s excited and then you do five and it doesn’t work and the ratings don’t happen and then you have to go home, they just shut it down. Ruthless is a good word. But there’s a lot at stake and there’s a lot of money to be made and when you’re successful in America, you’re successful in the whole world. Financially it’s more rewarding sometimes, although it’s not always about that. And the business is not just Hollywood anymore – it’s international. Amazon and Netflix are making a lot of content out of the UK and Germany. I just fish where the fish are. I go where the work is.
What do people recognise you most for nowadays?
I did this thing, Hooten & the Lady, which I really loved but I realised later that Sky has a much smaller audience – they get like a million viewers. I did a show a long time ago called Love Soup with Tamsin Greig. Funnily enough I did a Miranda and I just did one episode but ironically people stop me and say ‘Were you on Miranda?’ So you never know. I thought Miranda was a genius.
What about Lois & Clark?
It’s so long ago for me and in America I’ve done other stuff that people will notice but in Europe for people that still sticks out for a certain age group. But now everything is superheroes – I did the superhero show when it wasn’t cool to do a superhero show. My timing wasn’t right on that one.
Silent Witness continues on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC1